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NEXT SUMMER
Poem by Joan Jobe Smith

The peaches turned out small this year—
no bigger than apricots.
No one wanted to eat them
one bite off each wasn’t worth it.
I picked them
left the ones on the tree
the butcher birds and meadowlarks
had bitten into, the ants crawling on them,
the funny-looking flies coveting them.
And I left the ones that had fallen onto
the ground, rotting now, because I
liked the way it made the backyard smell.
No one wanted to help me peel them
and slice them because it took
so much time—and I ate some
the ones with a worm on one side
the ones bruised on one side until
my teeth felt sweet and slick
and icy. I let them set overnight
and in the morning the nectar
buoyed the peaches like fat dumplings
in sauce; and I only added a little honey
to thin out the juice so that the peaches
would go farther. When
the crust had browned
and the cobbler removed from the oven
and cooled some in front of the open window
we all ate a bowlful although
it was almost suppertime
and we talked about the things we’ll do with them
next summer when the peaches are bigger.

Painting by June Marie. Find her work here.

Note: “Next Summer” originally appeared in The Wormwood Review:68 — an issue that also featured the work of Charles Bukowski and future U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins. The poem will appear in the upcoming Silver Birch Press release Charles Bukowski Epic Glottis: His Art, His Women (&me) by Joan Jobe Smith.